This story was sent to me from a client of mine. It is such a story of determination and dedication. Her story is a little long, but I know you will be cheering her on as you read it.
After reading my story, some of you will think I’m completely crazy, others will think extremely dedicated, but most of you will think I’m a little bit of both. To better understand my relactation story I feel that I should share my original adventure with breastfeeding.
My son, Keagan, was born almost full term, absolutely perfect, but with a tongue tie. When my milk came in my breasts were so engorged that my nipples were almost flat. The combination of my sons tongue tie with my flat nipples led us to use a nipple shield. It worked out well and he had a great latch with the shield, the problem was that the shield made me incredibly self-conscious and I refused to nurse in public. I pumped and gave my son breastmilk from a bottle whenever we were anywhere other than the comfort of our home. Well as you can imagine this led my supply to tank, and my son developed a preference for the bottle.
When he was 1 month old we had his tongue tie divided, but he had already learned to breastfeed with the nipple shield, so as hard as I tried to break him of it, he couldn’t get a good latch on my bare breast. At his two month check-up his doctor said he wasn’t gaining enough weight and I should start supplementing with formula. I still remember crying the first time I gave my son formula, thinking there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t produce milk for my child and that I had somehow done something wrong.
I planned to return to work at three months and weaned him completely. Well I never ended up returning to work and now I could kick myself for not jump starting my re-lactation then. I was pretty content with my son being on formula; I never had a ton of breastfeeding support from my son's father, and bottles were just a lot easier.
When my son was nine months old there was a recall on his formula because there were insects and larvae in it. I was so upset I cried, wondering what I had been giving my son. I sought the help of a lactation consultant to see if there was anything I could do to restart my lactation. I knew it had been at least six months since I produced any milk. We came up with a plan and I started pumping every two hours.
After a week of taking domperidone and pumping every two hours I started getting droplets of milk on my nipples. I couldn’t believe it! I remember being extremely discouraged at times, but then thinking to myself that I could actually do this. The droplets were proof, I was accomplishing my goal of breastfeeding my son!
Almost as soon as the droplets appeared, my milk supply increased, slowly and steadily. I continued to pump every two to four hours, and after about a month I was pumping two ounces a day! Some of you might question how I managed pumping that frequently with a ten month old.
It has definitely not been easy, but I just kept telling myself, more milk out equals more milk made.
I would do power pumping sessions, ten minutes on and ten minutes off, and I pumped at least once during the night. After the first month, I thought to myself, "two ounces is nothing compared to the 20+ ounces my son is drinking a day, is this even worth it, can I ever get up to pumping enough to satisfy him?" I started making weekly goals for myself, and charting my pumping totals daily.
I tried to get Keagan to latch again when he was about ten months old, I pumped in front of him, hand expressed some milk and left it on my nipple, I grabbed him in my lap and let him explore. He licked the milk off my nipple and then tried to bite it. I realized my son was too attached to his bottle to latch again; I gave up the idea of ever breastfeeding my son again. Part of me was sad that I would never feel that intimate with him, but at the same time I knew I could work hard and still give him the benefits of my milk.
Slowly and steadily my milk supply rose. After another two weeks I was up to six ounces a day, an entire bottle of breastmilk! The first night I gave my son a bottle with just breastmilk, he woke up at 4 AM (not his usual 6:30) because he was hungry! I knew that six ounces wasn’t enough and I had to keep pumping, keep increasing my supply. A week later I was up to eight ounces and he was back to sleeping through the night! I was quite content with getting one bottle of breastmilk a day and decreased my pumping sessions to four or five a day.
As my son's first birthday approached, I cringed at the thought of giving him cow's milk. He was still drinking 2 bottles of formula a day and 1 bottle of breastmilk. I decided I needed to begin increasing my milk supply so that I could give him all breastmilk bottles. I was tied to my pump, again, every two hours trying to increase my supply. By his first birthday I was pumping enough for two bottles a day. I decided not to make the switch to cows milk just yet and split the second bottle between his two naps and kept his big bottle for bedtime.
Most people start weaning their children from the breast around a year, but for some reason I find myself wanting to make more milk for him! Part of me feels like I need to make up for the six months of his life that I gave him formula, so I will continue to pump and give him my milk for as long as he will drink it! I definitely feel a loss not being able to just grab him up and nurse him, and pumping can be super stressful, but I am overjoyed with my decision to re-lactate and thrilled with the progress I have made in the past three months!
So here it is. Will it work for you or your friend or sister? I've seen it happen many times. Do you want to re-lactate? Did you re-lactate? I'd love to talk with you. Give me a call at 978-422-9070.